Yes, this will piss off a lot of people, but what doesn’t? Recently, following the shooting in Colorado, there have been tons of gun control threads popping up everywhere. You’ve got the anti-gun crazies on one side and the pro-gun crazies on the other and neither side has much rational to say to the other.
Yet the real problem remains that we’re operating under a Constitution written more than 230 years ago and trying to make it fit modern situations.
Let’s take the gun question above for example. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m entirely in favor of responsible private gun ownership, but I can cite more reasons for that than most gun-nuts, who can’t get beyond quoting half of the second amendment. They will tell you that it says “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Well, they’re half right. Pretty consistently, they leave out the first half of the amendment, which actually says “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Yeah, I know you’re going to argue that the Supreme Court decided that individual gun rights did not rely on belonging to a militia and you’re right. That’s also half the problem. Let me explain.
See, the founding fathers lived in a different time than we did. At the time, there was no standing army. There wasn’t much of a standing police force either. There wasn’t a fire department. If your neighbor’s house was on fire, you and all the men in your community would grab buckets and put out the fire. That was the expectation. Specifically though, every able-bodied white male was expected to own a firearm and, in times of local or national crisis, come to the aid of their home as a fighting force. That is specifically why the 2nd amendment was written. It wasn’t a right to own guns, it was a guarantee of domestic defense.
However, times change and today, we have a standing military and people are not expected to grab their gun and hold off enemies, foreign and domestic. We also have police and fire departments which are trained to fight crime and fires, freeing the people from having to take on those responsibilities as well. Yet, we still have this concept on the books and we have a Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, which exists solely to interpret this ancient document. They have no other function. So what can they do when they are faced with conditions that the founding fathers clearly could never have foreseen or technologies they never could have imagined?
They fake it.
I mean, I hope they’re doing their best, but when interpreting cases on gun ownership, they had to take the only thing in the founding documents that applied and, through a well-meaning hatchet job, erase the entire first part of the amendment because it no longer meant anything in the modern world. However, when you do something like that, you rip the concept entirely out of context. You really can’t pick every third word out of a phrase and expect to come up with anything useful, especially if your supposed purpose is to preserve the original intent of the founding fathers.
What intent could the founding fathers have had with regard to cell phones, the Internet, automobiles or the space program? The farther we get from the days of the founding fathers, the less relevance their intent really has on modern life.
The issue here, I think, is that we’re desperately trying to cling to a document that, while it’s filled with genius, has increasingly limited application. You have to run it through an increasing number of ringers to get any amount of pertinence. So what do you do in the relatively near future when 99% of the document really doesn’t mean anything?
I honestly think that we need to revisit the Constitution on a relatively regular basis. Yes, I know we can amend it, but in the real world, amendments are virtually impossible to accomplish. That was the point, to keep it from being altered willy-nilly, but it’s gotten so difficult that things that really need to change, ideas that really need to be updated, and we’re left with outdated laws on the books.
I also think we need to redo the Supreme Court. While I know this would be difficult, but we need to stop allowing the political parties from stacking the court. Judges who get to sit on the Court should be forbidden from using their political beliefs to evaluate cases. Isn’t the point of the SC supposed to be judging cases in light of the Constitution and the founding father’s intent? It is not to push a particular political agenda one way or another. I want the SC to be entirely apolitical. No conservatives, no liberals, no Republicans, no Democrats, just people who can be objective about the document and rule appropriately.
It’ll never happen though, there’s too much political hay to make by stacking the court with highly political individuals.
There’s so much more I could say on the subject but I don’t know how much more it would add. None of these things are going to change, the Constitution will continue to become more and more irrelevant and the Court will have to bend and twist and mangle it farther and farther to have it say anything worthwhile with regard to modern cases. I think the Supreme Court Justices are already putting far too many of their own biases into their decisions now, it can only get worse from here.
Too bad we won’t fix the problem before it falls apart entirely.